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(02/27/2008) Tropic Death by Eric Walrond. New York. 1926. Boni & Liveright. keywords: Literature Caribbean Guinea. 283 pages.

Stories from an all-but-unknown African American writer of the 1920s.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   TROPIC DEATH, Eric Walrond's most acclaimed work, consists of ten stories of inhumanity in the American tropics, especially white against black - or imperial power against impoverished native. In 'Subjection,' for example, a white marine shoots a black canal worker. Walrond also explores the effects of modern technology and exploitation on the Caribbean natural environment; 'The Palm Porch' describes the construction of the Panama Canal in terms of its causing 'the gradual death and destruction of the frontier post. ' Walrond writes in an impressionistic style that quickly shifts from one image to another. He depicts cultural impressions more than characters or plot yet illustrates the disorientation and alienation his characters experience. Considered an example of avant-garde writing, TROPIC DEATH has been praised by critics such as W. E. B. DuBois and Langston Hughes.

Eric Walrond born in Georgetown, British Guiana, in 1898, was the son of a Barbadian mother and a Guyanese father. His first eight years were spent in Guiana. But his parents' marital difficulties led Walrond into an almost wayfaring existence. In 1906, his father abandoned Walrond and his mother. His mother moved the two of them to a small village in Barbados to live with their relatives. Walrond began his education in Barbados at St. Stephen's Boys' School, located in Black Rock. Around 1910, Walrond and his mother traveled in search of his father to the Panama Canal Zone, where thousands of west Indians and Guyanese were employed to dig the canal. Walrond and his mother never found his father and they made a home in Colon. It is in Colon where Walrond completed his public and secondary school education between 1913 and 1916. During his education in Colon, Walrond was exposed to the Spanish culture and became bilingual. Around this time he was trained as a secretary and stenographer, and acquired a job as a clerk in the Health Department of the Canal commission at Cristobal. Through the years 1916 and 1918 he began a journalistic career which he pursued while in the United States. Walrond worked as a general reporter, court reporter, and sportswriter for the Panama Star-Herald, 'the most important contemporaneous newspaper in the American tropics. ' Walrond was also associated with the Harlem Renaissance. In the early 1920s he published short stories in periodicals such as the Opportunity, Smart Set, and Vanity Fair. In 1923, he wrote 'On Being a Domestic,' 'Miss Kenny's Marriage,' 'The Stone Rebounds,' and 'The Stone Rebounds. ' Walrond's stories focused on a realistic presentation of racial situations in New York City. In 1924 he focused on a more impressionistic presentation of life in the American tropics. He did not return to the realistic form of writing until 1927, when he wrote 'City Love,' which is the last story he published before he left the United States. His works include - 'On Being Black' ; 'On being a Domestic,' 'Miss Kenny's Marriage,' 'The Stone Rebounds,' 'Cynthia Goes to the Prom,' 'The New Negro Faces America,' 'The Negro Exodus from the South' ; 'Vignettes of the Dusk,' 'The Black City' ; 'A Cholo Romance,' 'Imperator Africanus, Marcus Garvey: Menace or Promise?' ; Tropic Death ; 'City Love'.

 

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